Monday, December 22, 2008

THE PROPER DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE LAW AND THE GOSPEL NECESSARY FOR LIFE

Evangelicalism and most Reformed churches nowadays give law to their sheep who need gospel, and gospel to their sheep who need law.

The following statements I thought were excellent, from A Summary of Christian Doctrine, by Edward W.A. Koehler:
_________________

"The Law is to be preached to all people but especially to unrepentant sinners."

"The Gospel is to be preached to sinners who are troubled in their minds because of their sins."

"The reason why both the Law and the Gospel are to be used in the life of Christians is that believers have a double nature. They are at the same time justified and a sinner. They have the old Adam who is under the Law and the new man who is under the Gospel. The difficulty in using both Law and Gospel properly lies in the fact that in actual life it is difficult to determine to what extent a given behavior of a Christian is the expression of the old Adam or of the new man. Yet the proper distinction between Law and Gospel is of utmost importance. The confusion or mixing of the two will make it impossible for anyone to become a Christian or to remain in the faith."
______________

All three statements above I think are some of the wisest words I have ever read. How ironic especially the last one, having struggled with assurance of salvation for 12 years.

Praise God for Luther's theology of the cross.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet that same Martin Luther wouldn't be allowed to partake of the Eucharist within the walls of your U.R.C. church?
Sometimes our fellow brothers and sisters in the Faith may not be "reformed" in a Calvinistic sense, but fully embrace the Triune God and the concepts of Justification, Sanctification, Salvation and Grace.

Josh Brisby said...

Anonymous,

Please sign your name in the future after comments. We normally don't allow anonymous comments here.

Welcome to The Reformed Oasis.

Josh Brisby said...

Anonymous,

To respond to your above comment nonetheless:

(1) Keep in mind I am not revealing whether I agree or disagree with my local consistory's policy on the Table and close(d) communion, but I do submit to my consistory and their judgment.

(2) Most churches nowadays actually practice close(d) communion.

(3) Have you studied the reasons for close(d) communion? Are you aware of the issues involved in the debate over fencing the table and open versus close(d) communion?

(4) The reason many believe in close(d) communion is *not* to say that other churches are not Christians, but they believe that the Eucharist is the sacrament of unity. Since it is the sacrament of unity, it would be rather far-fetched to commune with someone that one is not doctrinally in accord with. Furthermore, many close(d) communion churches want to protect those seeking to commune, b/c the Eucharist can actually bring about harm if not used properly (see 1 Corinthians 11). Indeed, many believe that "discern the body" means recognizing the Real Presence of Christ at the Table, so why would one commune with someone who doesn't recognize the Real Presence?

Further, Lutherans, for example, will not commune someone unless they believe in the physical presence of Christ, whereas Calvinists believe in the spiritual presence.

So, the main concerns of the close(d) position is to protect those seeking to commune, and to make clear to the watching world that when one communes together, one confesses the doctrine of that particular local church. Some would say indeed that this is how the sacrament was ordained and designed by God.

So, prima facie, just b/c the Table is fenced from someone who does not confess the same doctrine as a particular local church, does *not* mean that that local church thinks they are not Christians.

So, I'm not sure what your concern about many URCs fencing the Table in a close(d) manner is about.

Anonymous said...

I was merely pointing out that you applaud Luther on his views of the Cross, yet he could not partake with you as a fellow brother in Christ. In fact, John Calvin himself couldn't. I understand the reasons why churches fence the communion table, for the table is no laughing matter. The Holy Spirit is present in the elements, something unexplainable to most. I appreciate your opinions. You are well spoken. I wasn't trying to bait you into an argument over consubstantiation but merely pointing out that many "reformed" believers seem to forget that regardless of very minute differences, many of us from other denominations fully worship the Triune God and thus should be able to partake with our fellow bretheren, regardless of being "reformed" or not. Just my opinion.
Blessings,
Kurt Stein

Josh Brisby said...

Brother Kurt Stein,

Welcome to The Reformed Oasis.

Not a problem. Remember, I wasn't claiming that close(d) communion was necessarily the view I hold to; I was merely presenting the close(d) communion case.

Blessings in Christ our Savior!